A Lot of Problems, Some Basic Facts and Some Easy Solutions

mroberts's picture

A Lot of Problems, Some Basic Facts and Some Easy Solutions

I was agog at $133; I'm numb and depressed at $142, and I wonder what it will take for us to respond intelligently...$200???.

In the recent Chico News & Review, our august local weekly, there is a very good article - http://www.newsreview.com/chico/Content?oid=685121 - regarding the increasing number of roadblocks being erected in the path of practitioners of sustainable, environmentally beneficial biodiesel production.

So while the price of oil continues to skyrocket, the double whammy emerges in the form of unthinking and unfocused policy.

Why is it that those who have made the effort - paid good money - to seek out, develop and support an alternative to dirty and increasingly costly petroleum based products are now encountering more resistance from policy makers? Could it be because the fundamentals of biodiesel - unhampered by unfair regulatory obstacles - actually make sense, economically as well as environmentally? Is this now an identified threat to Big Oil and its legions of lobbyists and pocket politicos?

I think the answer is yes.

It amazes me that so many intelligent individuals on both sides of the political isle can shake their heads and agree the following issues are major problems:

1. Oil is finite and current prices are a major economic problem, rippling throughout our entire economy (and culture, for that matter)
2. Climate change is happening (most rationale people believe human activity is accelerating the change for the worse)
3. Alternative energies will benefit virtually every human being
4. Significant economic growth will be driven by discoveries and development of alternative energy technologies

There is no argument. These are agreed upon facts.

And yet, the only energy policies out there today seem to be focused on thwarting first movers. Case in point, as is highlighted in the attached article, Individuals and small businesses that make their own biodiesel fuel, for their own use, have to pay an EQUIVALENT [to gasoline] per gallon road tax - the same as Mr. Hummer. Why? And why does someone hustling to find used cooking oil - previously considered useless waste - have to pay $375 for the right to pick up 10 gallons of grease from a restaurant? Remember in the old days - 2+ years ago - there was an industry that charged people to pick up this "waste".

The guy who's driving a hummer didn't pony up for a BioPro so that he could help establish an alternative energy infrastructure ( and save a lot of money in the process). He isn't reducing his particulate and carbon emissions, and he isn't helping our economy by adding the contents of his wallet to the tsunami of cash (more than $1 billion / day ) headed to oil producers outside the US. He's part of the problem and, if anything, should pay a higher road tax!

Often the easiest solutions are the simplest: reduce or eliminate the road tax on biodiesel; reduce or elimate the restrictions on small scale RVO collection and increase the incentives - tax and ease - on biodiesel users. Attack the petroleum problem by funding industry, universities and entrepreneurs who are all actively seeking out alternatives.

I've written about a "Moonshot" mentality. It will take that to wean us from oil.